Recent privacy issues are still in the spotlight with the admission by Ebay-owned Skype that they were searching text messages for keywords for the Chinese government, storing user chat sessions and the personal records of millions of people on easily accessible
computer systems. After Yahoo's faux pas, Google's keystroke-logging and tracking of internet users from it's search toolbar and Chrome browser, it's censoring and reporting to foreign governments now
Reuters reports Skype claiming their surveillance only affects conversations where either party was using the Chinese version of the software. Sure.
Yahoo was criticised after an
incident with a Chinese journalist and 'secrets' back in 2005.
Are some companies risking public trust and 'helping' oppress people in non-democratic countries? It's something for their shareholders to think about. I'm sure it would be equally profitable to sell portable nuclear weapons to Iran, and we wouldn't, but
the risks are similar in keeping people ignorant. North Korea being an example.
Could the conspiracy theories be true? Have the web and some of it's most successful companies just become a spying arm for governments and marketers?
Critics point out that there's a difference between reporting transactions and lawful interception according to democratically enacted legislation and assisting non-democratic rulers with eavesdropping and censorship.
Are we letting these companies undermine our own democracy?
Instead of a web which enables everyone there is a danger that it has, or will become something very much less than equalitarian.